April 30, 2008
By Priyanka Tope, Miller Place, NY

She could not do anything about it, it was inevitable. This had been a new feeling for her, for her life was always decided by herself and nobody else. The rents didn’t bother asking her or telling her when they came back from rehab or went back to jail so by age fifteen she was pretty much as independent as one could imagine. Her job at the local grocery store was the major source of income, along with the occasional money that was forgotten on her brother’s floor made from “medicating the poor”.

She could not control it; there was nothing she could do. If he had not been there, those days when she was there, it would not have happened. If only her hormones were one percent changed maybe she would not have felt that way. Maybe if she had quit her job at the grocery store and studied for her final test she would have not had to take the course again in summer school. She would have still been in the top five percent of her class of over one thousand kids. Maybe if she had passed the test her review paper filled with red correction ink would not have had the chance to out of her hands and into his, and he would not have offered to help. He explained how he had taken the course, and done excellent and was now tutoring other kids with difficulty. By the time the conversation started, her head was already spinning. His dark hair brought out the moon-like glow of his large hazel-green eyes. His tall, lean body structure contradicted the almost poetic expression on his clean-cut face.

The private tutoring classes became more like moments of awkward pauses where the fantasies of their relationships overcame both of them. Every day of the summer, they met under the large oak tree and practiced and reviewed, laughed, and fell in love. Or so she thought. One day in particular she remembered as they were reviewing the worst chapter in the entire book, she stumbled upon a question that she just could not solve. Out of humiliation and defeat, angry streams filled her cheeks. Without thinking, he dropped his book on the shady grass to put an arm on her arm. His arm on her arm became an arm around her shoulder, and soon a tight hug where her head dug into his chest and his chin brushed her silky hair. His sweatshirt smelled of something she could not quite determine, but was enough to make her have an emotional throw-up. As her tears stopped she turned her head and looked up at him. Her inner soul was on fire and her hands shaking, and finally after a long gaze he, she, they-

She presently closes her eyes tight. No more, she is telling herself firmly. With a backwards tilt of her head she greedily slurps the last few drops of her fermented grape juice. What a change, she is thinking, from under an oak tree in the hot summer to sitting on the cement of Central Park drinking my last for the night. And at this time every night she talks loudly to herself about how just because a pretty boy felt too good for the rest of the world, she was doomed to this life.

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